Urban on-site sanitation services present challenges for emptying, transporting, disposing and treating faecal waste. Transfer stations can be used by household-level emptiers to safely dispose of faecal sludge, but they rarely exist. Accra's use of transfer stations has provided an opportunity to research their functioning, as part of broader faecal sludge management arrangements. The paper discusses the benefits offered by use of transfer stations, as well as reasons currently limiting their operation. While costs associated with operating and emptying these stations are passed to householders, an illegal sector thrives offering lower cost emptying services, typically with disposal of faecal sludge directly into the environment. At present, bucket latrines offer sanitation services to low-income households unable to afford higher service levels, such as septic tanks. The local government aims to phase-out all bucket latrines by 2010, but affordable alternatives have not been found. Where limited access to land inhibits investment in permanent facilities, families may abandon household sanitation altogether. The paper concludes that correct use of transfer stations can provide improvements for existing faecal sludge management and reduce indiscriminate dumping. They must be made available to all workers, through effective public-private arrangements for ownership and operation.

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